There is much more than meets the eye when dealing with autism and children. Actually, most of what is considered an autistic symptom is completely underneath the surface of physical features and deals particularly with social skills, understanding the feelings of others, visual misperceptions and anxiety (Williams, 2011).
Growing up with a little brother, who has autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, makes nutrition and eating properly a priority in our household. What we have noticed over the years is that the less additives and preservatives in the food, the better. It is known that most autistic children have specific food sensitivities that can affect them negatively and cause unpleasant behavioral reactions (Autism Spectrum Disorder and Diet, 2016). My mother compares the food sensitivities of autistic children to that of an allergic reaction in which there is physical reaction, however, they cause frequent mental breakdowns, poor social skills and unwanted temper tantrums.
Most autistic children suffer from metabolic and digestive problems. These issues can lead to essential nutrients not being fully absorbed in the small intestines and therefore not being transferred to the brain in full amounts that in return can cause the problematic reactions (ASD and Diet, 2016).
Nutrition plays a significant role in helping reduce the symptoms of autism in children. (Kawicka and Regulska-Ilow, 2016). Some diet recommendations include: gluten free, casein free and the specific carbohydrate diet. All of the “autism diets” include the removal of the foods causing the negative reactions and the addition of foods easier for them to digest.
There are some simple ways to get started on one of these diets. Begin by removing all non-organic foods with antibiotics, pesticides and hormones and replacing them with organic products (Kawicka and Regulska-Ilow, 2016) Choose organic produce and implement more naturally fed protein options such as: grass fed meats, free-range chickens and wild caught fish. At minimum, choose hormone and antibiotic free animal products. Be conscious of the pre-packaged items bought in stores and how often they contain additives, preservatives, food dyes, gluten and casein that can exacerbate symptoms of autism.
Guidance from a qualified dietitian is recommended to ensure optimal nutrition. Contact Nutrition CPR today for a consult. firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Sidney Gleason
Sidney is a junior at Lynchburg College and a Health Promotions major. She is a member of the women’s lacrosse team and has a younger brother with Autism. Her sibling bond is the reason for her interest in the correlation between nutrition and the behavior of children with ASD. Sidney will be writing 2 more articles on autism and diet this summer for Nutrition CPR!